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22 Jun 12
Changes to Queensland's IR laws

The Newman Government has amended the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld) to provide greater rights to employers in the Queensland industrial relations system, including Regional Councils.

Under the amendments the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) has retained its discretion to make wage determinations for the public sector however it will have to do so with the State’s economy in mind.  The amendments also require the QIRC to ensure that it takes into account the financial position of the State and the public sector entity it is considering, the State’s fiscal strategy and the employer’s financial position. 

The amendments have also brought the Queensland and Commonwealth industrial relations schemes into closer alignment.  The Queensland Attorney-General now has powers similar to that which exist under the current Commonwealth laws to make declarations terminating industrial action if it is threatening:

  • the safety and welfare of the community, or
  • to damage the Queensland economy.

The amendments have also significantly altered the requirements for taking industrial action by requiring the industrial action to be authorised by a protected action ballot and stipulating the conditions which achieve that authorisation.  When industrial action is proposed to be taken, the notice of industrial action will need to include the nature of the intended action and the day it will start.

Further, the amendments have introduced the ability for employers in the Queensland system to put proposed enterprise agreements directly to employees for approval.

These amendments commenced on 12 June 2012 and are likely to bring more balance and comfort to public sector and local government employers in uncertain economic and industrial environments.

This alert covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.

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